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Air Enema for Intussusception

How Does an Air Enema Help with Intussusception?

Air enema for intussusception: A radiology test using fluoroscopy.

The enema uses air or a contrast material solution to create pressure within the intestine and "un-telescope" the intussusception while relieving the obstruction.

What is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a type of imaging that uses X-Ray pictures to look inside the body. Like a video, these pictures are real time, live, moving images.

What is Intussusception?

A condition where one part of the bowel or intestine slides or backs up into itself. This condition can cause bowel blockages and can lead to other serious medical complications.

What is an Air Enema?

A fluoroscopy exam that takes pictures as the patient’s rectum and bowel is filled with air. The air is pumped in through a tube in the rectum and is meant to unfold the inside out section of the bowel.

Before the Exam:

  • An IV will be needed for the exam and this is usually placed by the emergency department staff.
  • A consult with a surgeon will take place prior to the exam to discuss the patient’s diagnosis, the procedure and next steps.
  • A consent form for the air enema will be reviewed and signed prior to starting the exam.

During the Exam:

  • A parent or caregiver may stay close to the patient during the entire exam holding hands, talking, and providing comfort.
  • The patient will be positioned laying on the procedure bed.
  • A small, soft tube is inserted into the rectum.
  • The radiologist will pump air through the tube.
  • The technologist and other staff will help hold the tube in place and firmly squeeze the buttocks to prevent air from leaking out.
  • The air being pumped in may push the folded section of the bowel back to a normal position.
  • The radiologist will take fluoroscopy pictures to watch the air move through the bowel and determine if the intussusception has been fixed.
  • Additional x-ray images may be needed.
  • Your child will push the air out-like passing gas during and after the procedure.

After the Exam:

  • Radiology staff will talk with you about the results of the exam and explain the next steps in the care plan.
  • You will return to the emergency department or your child’s room when all of the x-ray pictures are complete.

Last Updated 02/2022

Reviewed By Dianne Hater
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